Can 3D Scanning Tech Be Used For Roller Coaster Accident Prevention And Maintenance?

3D scanning

Most people have experienced the thrill of a fairground ride or roller coaster. The fear and adrenaline are something that is hard to replicate in any other way. So, when we consider the mechanical and engineering design of the ride, how can we be sure it is as safe as it can possibly be? In the past, the individual components and design has been soundly tested to ensure that the ride is structurally sound, and many tests and simulations are invented and applied to try to account for any eventuality. In addition, they are routinely tested every single day before use to ensure there is no mechanical fault or wear. So, how can 3D scanning help?

Easier Comparison

It is essential that the original design of the roller coaster or fairground ride can be quickly compared to the condition and geometry of the existing ride. This helps to map any changes, warps or deterioration in any of the engineered parts. We live in a digital age and so most rides today have a digital file as their design template. This accurate representation can be easily compared with a replica of the ride as it exists.

So, What’s The Problem?

Although this sounds easy, what actually happens is that the ride is built in pieces and then put together like a jigsaw. During this process it is not uncommon for changes to be made, or additional pieces to be created to allow a smoother fix. This means that the additionally created piece of equipment has not been tested within the whole structure of the ride, and so it creates an unknown quantity. This, potentially, can create load-bearing issues or a weakness, that would not have been part of the initial safety calculations, thus undermining parts or the whole of the structure.

How 3D Scanning Helps

3D scanning allows a more complete visual representation of the roller coaster ride by capturing a large area of data. This is a painstaking process as you might imagine, given the scale of the ride. Scans have to be taken of the whole ride, including the underside. Next is a piecing together of all the relevant data. Of course, scans will have to be done separately until every single piece of the ride has been incorporated into the data.  This can be quite a long procedure but gives more accurate results in the long-term. Once all the data has been gathered, then all the scans are put together to perform one whole and complete representation of the ride. All extraneous information is removed and due to the high number of reading points taken during the scans, the ultimate digital file will be very accurate, allowing a physical small-scale exact representational model to be created. It is on this physical model that all further safely tests are carried out.

Finally, A Complete Solution

By creating the accurate as-built model with the use of 3D scanning, it is easier to test what is actually built, rather than testing the ride for what was supposed to have been built. There is a big difference between the two, particularly when many older rides had ad hoc parts introduced into the structure for ease of fixing. This gives a much more accurate picture of the wear and tear of the mechanical structure and ensures safety is easier to achieve.

by George Chitos

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